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FC Porto's Mariano González is relishing the prospect of a direct duel with Brazilian left-back Roberto Carlos when his side open their UEFA Champions League campaign against Fenerbahçe SK at the Estádio do Dragão.
The Argentinian international winger, who made a permanent move to Portugal this summer after spending last season on loan with the 2004 European champions, has begun the new term well. Having scored in Porto's curtain-raising Liga win over CF Os Belenenses on 24 August, he should be rewarded with a start against Luis Aragonés's men – and a head-to-head with Roberto Carlos.
'One of the best'
"For me, he is one of the best full-backs in the history of the game, he has so much experience," said Mariano. "I think it's going to be a major duel between us, but it's always a pleasure to face him." The 27-year-old is undaunted, though, feeling physically ready to match the renowned stamina of the 35-year-old former Real Madrid CF star. "Am I prepared to run? The whole team is," he said. "Roberto Carlos will have to be prepared to do some running too."
Mariano also pledged that, despite considerable personnel changes at the Estádio do Dragão since last season, Porto will maintain the attacking style which has brought them three successive domestic titles. The aim will be to improve on back-to-back first knockout round exits in the UEFA Champions League. "Porto's style remains the same," he said, quashing suggestions that Jesualdo Ferreira's men would approach Matchday 1 with caution. "We always attack, so of course we will be aggressive."
The former US Città di Palermo and FC Internazionale Milano player is well-qualified to talk about his team's attacking options: he left the field in a daze in the second half against Belenenses after failing to avoid a stinging free-kick from his newly arrived Brazilian team-mate, the aptly named Hulk. "If the situation requires it, I'll join the [defensive] wall again," promised Mariano. "I'll have to. It's a work situation, so if have to go, I have to go."
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